An NYPD officer from West Islip and two other Long Island men were arrested on drug and conspiracy charges Tuesday, the result of an investigation sparked by the fatal overdose of a man in Copiague in September.
Joseph Recca, 28, who faces drug, conspiracy, official misconduct and unauthorized use of a computer charges, could serve up to 25 years in prison if convicted, Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said Wednesday.
“This is obviously a shocking case because it deals with a member of law enforcement dealing drugs in our community, which is very concerning and we are going to hold him accountable,” Sini said during a news conference outside Suffolk County Court in Central Islip.
Recca resigned from the NYPD shortly after his arraignment Wednesday in Suffolk County court, the department said.
Recca’s alleged partners in the drug distribution ring, Michael Corbett, 53, of West Islip, and Michael Sosa, 25, of Brentwood, also face drug and conspiracy charges. Sosa was charged with a gun violation after an unregistered and untraceable 9 mm weapon was found in his home during execution of a search warrant, officials said. Recca was charged with unauthorized use of a computer because he used an NYPD computer to determine the identities of people he suspected were following him, Sini said.
Investigators seized 400 grams of drugs, drug paraphernalia and $75,000 in cash while executing search warrants on Recca’s car and the homes of Corbett and Sosa, officials said. Recca and his partners sold what they claimed was oxycodone, Sini said, but investigators suspect the drugs were pills containing fentanyl, a cheap, powerful and deadly synthetic opioid.
All three men pleaded not guilty at arraignment Wednesday.
A judge released Recca with electronic monitoring. He is scheduled to return to court Monday.
Recca declined to speak with reporters after his arraignment.
His attorney, Matthew Rosenblum, of Commack, called Recca a “revered officer” who was a victim of rising anti-police sentiment.
“If he were not a cop,” Rosenblum said, “this case would not be on TV.”
Outside his West Islip home Wednesday, Jim Recca, the accused cop's father, described his son as "a great guy."
“I don’t have a comment on what is going on but I’m shocked just like everybody else,” he said.
Corbett, also released on recognizance, is scheduled to return to court Sept. 9. Corbett’s attorney Steven Politi said his client was released from a hospital following knee-replacement surgery the day before he was arrested. The drugs found in Corbett’s home, Politi said, were prescribed by a physician.
Politi said Corbett had a large stash of cash at the home because he preferred to use cash rather than credit cards during the coronavirus lockdown.
Sosa’s bail was set at $100,000 cash or $1.5 million partially secured bond. He is also expected to return to court on Monday. His attorney, Michael Brown of Central Islip, said he is confident the charges against his client will be proved to be unfounded.
“Recca was the ring leader,” Brown said. “Mr. Sosa is just a minor player in all of this.”
Sini said Sosa supplied what were purported to be oxycodone pills to Recca, who then sold them to Corbett, who sold the drugs to customers from his West Islip home.
Sini and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said the investigation began after a man in his 20s died from a drug overdose, and Suffolk police uncovered evidence that Recca had sold drugs to the man just before his death. Sini said authorities have not linked those drugs to the fatal overdose.
“No one is above the law,” Hart said. “Together, law enforcement will continue to hold officers like Recca accountable for the damage that they inflict not only on the communities they swore to protect but to the badge we are all so proud to wear.”